FANTASIA FEST 2021 REVIEW! A while back, I reviewed the tepid short The Awful Kind, opining how its one-take shot was a mere gimmick, as the story is set in an empty building. The marketing championed this style as some sort of feat when so many movies both before and after have accomplished something similar in much bolder, more impressive ways, and I found that (and still do) to be genuinely laughable. Still, others ate it up, as most reviews were quite positive of the Western. I stand by everything I said in that review and maintain it is one of the worst films I saw that year (my 3/10 did not go over too well with several folks). So why all this droning on about a movie reviewed years ago? Because standing in stark contrast to that film’s lackluster um… everything is the delightful Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes (Droste no hate de Bokura).
Written by Makoto Ueda and directed by Junta Yamaguchi, the film follows cafe owner Kato (Kazunari Tosa), who is closing up for the day and prepares to go to his band’s gig later that night. His employee Aya (Riko Fujitani) wishes him a safe journey, which is funny, as he lives just above the restaurant. When Kato gets to his room, he is greeted via a computer monitor from himself two minutes in the future. Understandably freaked out, he convinces himself this is real and goes out to enact the future he saw in front of the cafe’s TV.
“…[Kato] is greeted via a computer monitor from himself two minutes in the future.”
Of course, it isn’t long before Aya, and Kato’s friends Komiya (Gota Ishida), Tanabe (Masashi Suwa), and Ozawa (Yoshifumi Sakai) discover what is happening. Ozawa figures out how to use other monitors to see even further into the future than two minutes. Kato becomes increasingly frustrated, as it seems the future is controlling everyone, but when Megumi (Aki Asakura), who owns the store next door, is put into harm’s way, he steps up to save her.
Inexplicably Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes is Yamaguchi’s debut film as a director. Mind you, this isn’t just his first feature-length title. It is his first time helming a movie, period. Well, based on the stunning craft behind this one-shot comedic sci-fi-romance, he has the potential to become one of the best filmmakers of his generation. The film starts on the sidewalk, just outside the main restaurant, with Megumi closing the doors as the camera treks to Kato doing the same, following him into the cafe. Then it tracks behind the main character as he waltzes up to his room and back down again after discovering his future self. And this is just the first 5-minutes or so, and it is already beyond impressive, even more so considering that Yamaguchi was also the director of photography.
Plus, none of that accounts for the meticulous way the future videos (all on monitors and/or television screens) are inserted into the production. This is all one take, so it’s not like traditional edits are inserted to go back and forth between the timelines. Just thinking about the level of care, detail, and planning that had to go into timing each moment, not just the brilliantly written lines and when to say them, but panning this way or that to show crucial future scenarios and pushing into a close up of an actor’s face to properly read their emotions at any given moment is awe-inspiring. Independently produced titles have to be creative to work with what they have, and the cast and crew here work tirelessly to create an effortless, engaging experiment.
"…independently produced titles have to be creative to work with what they have..."